Our Founder Menlo Smith

“It’s very important that you don’t let the people you try to help become tragedies of your compassion.” – Menlo F Smith

Have you ever heard the sweet story about how Mentors International came to be?

The candy man, Menlo F. Smith, “Mr. Willy Wonka” himself, wanted to make the world a better place. He was a true entrepreneur himself inventing SweeTARTS, Nerds, Pixie Sticks and many other of our favorite candies including the Willy Wonka candy line. Menlo F. Smith was struck by the extreme poverty and suffering of the people while working on a three-year humanitarian project in the Philippines in the 1980s.

After returning to the United States in 1989, Menlo collaborated with Warner P. Woodworth and Steven H. Mann. The three men organized a team of graduate students who studied opportunities and developed networking contacts in the Philippines.

In 1990 the dream came to life in the creation of Mentors International, a charitable organization offering the life-changing programs of mentoring, business training, and financial services to impoverished entrepreneurs.

Thirty years have passed since Menlo’s initial dream was launched. Today we are still true to our original mission of empowering the world’s poor on their journey to greater self-reliance.

Mentors International now works in seven different countries and impacts over 300,000 people each year and growing. We continually work on improving our programs and services to those we work with.

Menlo with his wife Kathryn at the 2018
Annual Fundraiser Gala

Menlo with the Executive Director of Mentors Philippines in 2006

Past Presidents and Leaders of Mentors International Throughout the years. – Learn More